Sheriff's office identifies 2 found dead in tent

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CACHE COUNTY -- The bodies of two people found Sunday morning in a popular camping area 11 miles south of Hardware Ranch in Cache County have been identified.

The Cache County Sheriff's Office says 28-year-old Steven Dowdy of Clifton, Colo., and 10-year-old Darian Thomlinson of Grand Junction, Colo., were found dead inside a tent.

"Somebody went to wake up the victims for the activities of the day, found them unconscious and nonresponsive," said Lt. Matt Bilodeau, of the Cache County Sheriff's Office.

The two were family friends, and family members say Thomlinson often referred to Dowdy as "uncle" though they were not blood relatives. Thomlinson's family was staying in a tent trailer next to the tent where the two were sleeping.

Dowdy and Thomlinson were apparently trying to stay warm in their tent. Inside, deputies found a 5 pound propane tank hooked to a heater. "Accidents do happen, and unfortunately, this is the result of one of them," Bilodeau said.

Authorities say the Dowdy and Thomlinson were among several hundred people gathered for a weekend paintball tournament in Cache County.

"The actual location is about 2 miles north of the Weber County border, about 11 miles south of Hardware Ranch, which is in Blacksmith Fork Canyon," said Cache County sheriff's Lt. Matt Bilodeau.

According to an online paintball forum, the Scenario Paintball Player's League, or SPPL, had an event this weekend in Monto-Cristo. The SPPL's Web site says it's an international competitive paintball league.

A man on the scene told KSL 5 News the group was on private property. There's no cell service, so someone ran into Wasatch County, where they could call for help. Bilodeau says it's a very rural recreation area.

Authorities don't know what went wrong but say carbon monoxide can be a hazard in tents, RVs and boats.

On Saturday, a Redmond man boating on Fish Lake was treated for CO poisoning. When it started to rain, he and his grandson put a cover on the boat to stay dry. The cover trapped exhuast fumes inside the boat and the man began to feel sick. He fainted at the dock, but is expected to be OK.

Authorities say people should have carbon monoxide detectors and, if possible, look for other ways to stay warm.

Bilodeau said, "These people went up to have fun, get away from home to be with family. And to have something of this magnitude, especially with a young child involved that had her whole life in front of it, it's absolutely tragic to the family."

An autopsy will be done to determine exact cause of death.


Story compiled with contributions from Sandra Yi and Paul Nelson.

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